National Institutes of Health researchers have reported the largest genomic study of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in sub-Saharan Africans, with data from more than 5,000 individuals from Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya. Researchers confirmed known genomic variants and identified a novel gene ZRANB3, which may influence susceptibility to the disease in sub-Saharan African populations. The gene could also influence the development of T2D in other populations and inform further research. In a study published online on July 19, 2019 in Nature Communications, researchers analyzed genomic data available on participants through the Africa America Diabetes Mellitus study, the single largest diabetes genomic association study conducted on the continent of Africa. Using the information available from 5,231 people, the rsearchrs found many genomic variants to be significantly associated with T2D. The open-access article is titled “ZRANB3 Is an African-Specific Type 2 Diabetes Locus Associated with Beta-Cell Mass and Insulin Response.” The findings replicate results for many of the variants which other research studies have already been implicated in T2D in mostly European ancestry populations. The work was funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and the Office of the Director at the National Institutes of Health. "Africa is the original cradle of all humanity, to which all humans can trace their genetic origin," said Francis S. Collins, MD PhD, co-author of the paper and senior investigator with the NHGRI Medical Genomics and Metabolic Genetics Branch.
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